To my family and Friends… Coping with Cancer/ Hoping in Christ (Pt.1)

Family and Friends,

I have some bad news. I was just diagnosed with colon cancer. I’m in the process of many tests to determine its stage and my treatment plan. There’s a lot I don’t know yet, but with every bit of new information, it is my goal to write it down once and then let my immediate family share the information with you. It is very overwhelming, especially after losing my Mom recently to cancer, I have not had sufficient time to grieve and recover emotionally. Sometimes life is like a speeding roller coaster that offers no time to process anything around me. This is one of those times, where all I can do is buckle up with the power of the Holy Spirit living in me and hold on tight to Jesus and His promises.

Here’s what I know so far…

I have a 2 inch cancerous tumor in my descending colon. I’m having a cat scan done today to determine the stage. I may have other cancerous areas, as a test revealed cancer fragments in 4 other polyps that were removed as well. Once I know the results of this scan, I will have a better idea of my treatment plan, which will most likely include radiation, chemo and surgery to remove a large part of my colon.

Obviously, this is going to affect my work, my family and my emotions. But let me assure you, I will not allow this to affect my faith, which is rooted in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who sits on the throne of my life. All that I am and ever hope to be is in His hands.

Here’s what I’m asking from you…

To my clients: I will continue to work and do the best I can to be there for you for as long as I am able. However, there may be sudden changes I’ll need to make in scheduling. I have asked Rebeca (the other hairstylist at Akua) to be available to you if I cannot. She is ready to help.

To everyone: Please pray for the following…

Please pray for my girls, Elle and Emma…they are scared.

Please pray for my husband, Aaron…to have the strength to bear the load and remain strong for our family.

Please pray for all of my family to trust God, not question “why” and know that He has a purpose in all of this.

Please pray for me… that I continue to draw strength from God and stay focused on Him and not my circumstances; To know His purpose, His peace, His strength, His comfort and His infinite love for me, no matter what happens.

Thank you so much for your love, support and your prayers. I will try to post updates on my blog site (https://dbythesea.wordpress.com/wow/) and/or my Facebook page.

I love you all dearly!

Danielle

Posted in cancer, dbythesea, Faith, Jesus, Spiritual, walk on water | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Commitment Issues

I’ve been having a love affair with my guitar and I was really hoping to make sweet music together, but I seem to be having commitment issues. Haha..no, really…I do love it and always enjoy my time learning to play it, but I just can’t seem to commit to it! I desperately want to play and build a future with it…so what’s my problem? Maybe it’s my not-so-pitch-perfect voice that keeps me from playing. Or maybe that’s just a dumb excuse. Maybe I’m like the person who says they want to get in shape and go to the gym, but never goes. They really do want to, but wanting it and actually doing it are two very different things. It takes commitment and discipline and hard work. All of which are extremely challenging, but definitely not impossible. Excuses pile up, right? I’m too tired; it’s too cold; it’s too hot; my back hurts, (blah blah blah). I know, I know, I do it all the time.. I’m so out of shape and I keep telling myself I’m gonna make changes, but it’s soooo hard. Well, I guess that’s why I can’t run anymore or play the guitar. Maybe I don’t really have commitment issues at all…maybe, I’m just not willing to put in the hard work (gulp). That’s a hard pill to swallow, but truth often is.

I write lots of poetry and every now and then, I attempt to give it rhythm and form. I’ve even gone so far as to bribe a close friend to get me into a recording studio to record one of my songs. It was an awesome experience, mostly because the technology covered up the off-pitch parts of my voice and made it sound better than it really is, (kind of like air-brushing the voice). I wish I could share that song with all of you, but it was written years ago, for a man I once dated, (who had commitment issues, too), and I don’t think my husband would appreciate me posting a song I wrote for someone other than him. I did, however write another song specifically for my husband that he loves. My daughters do too, but I wasn’t able to get into that magical recording studio to make my voice sound good, so I can’t share that one, either. Sorry, that’s the best excuse I have.

Excuses are so easy to give, aren’t they? But they’re often harder to receive and hard to argue. We’re all guilty of dishing them out and most of us would agree that we hate them. So, why do we do it? I’m starting to discover how annoying excuses are. Especially my own. When I think of all the excuses I’ve given for my shortcomings and things I’ve wanted to accomplish, I get so frustrated at myself. Why can’t I stop making excuses and just do it? NIKE got it, so why, oh why can’t I? What do we want so badly, that gets replaced by excuses? Do we really want it, then? If so, get up and go after it! Pull up those bootstraps and move! Just COMMIT… UGHHH, there’s that awful word again.

I’m in the process of recognizing that I AM getting older and if I don’t start doing something about my commitment issues, I’ll never achieve anything of real value. Whether it’s my health, the guitar, my relationships with people or my relationship with God, it begins with commitment and ends with perseverance. Simple, right? NOPE! Nothing valuable is ever achieved without hard work and often a lot pain, but nearly always worth every bit of it, in the end.

We do have control over some things in our life, but there are many things we simply don’t have any control over. If I am really honest with myself, I will know the difference between the two and shouldn’t make excuses for what I can be doing myself. But, what if I don’t have any control? Then what? Well, I wrote a song for that too and I’m going to share it with you, (but only the words, because I’m still working on the rhythm). This song is about getting through the storms, that we can’t control. Sometimes, God allows us to go through them, but we don’t have to be a victim of their disaster. The storm can be used to cleanse us, test our faith, build our character and give us new life. This song was conceived in the eye of a pretty tough storm, which I’m still currently going through. I even used the storm as my excuse to stop writing, but God is showing me that I need to keep writing. God is seeing me through this hard time and the only reason I’m still standing is because I’m keeping my eyes on Jesus and not the storm. He is teaching me to rejoice in it, because it will refine me, just as gold is refined by fire; that my hope is in Him, even when I can’t see through the darkness.

MY HOPE IS IN THEE

Swept away by another storm, the current’s too strong to stand
So, Lord, in you I place my trust, tho I don’t understand
Your reasons why, still here am I
My life is in your hands
 
(CHORUS)
My eyes are on Jesus, I surrender to Thee,
and consider my troubles, pure joy for me.
Purify me through pain, while I rejoice in the rain 
and when I can’t see…my hope is in Thee
 
(VS.2)
When I’m tossed by the waves of doubt and I can’t see the shore
I hold on to the hope I have and the promises in your word 
Through the eye of the storm, keep my eyes on you, Lord
and remind me that I’m yours
 
(CHORUS)
My eyes are on Jesus, I surrender to Thee,
and consider my troubles, pure joy for me.
Purify me through pain, while I rejoice in the rain 
and when I can’t see…my hope is in Thee
 
(BRIDGE)
You whisper my name, so gentle and clear, 
saying “don’t be afraid, my child, I am here”
I’ll see you through, just take my hand
Let ME be the rock on which you will stand”
 
(CHORUS)
My eyes are on Jesus, I surrender to Thee,
and consider my troubles, pure joy for me.
Purify me through pain, while I rejoice in the rain 
and when I can’t see…my hope is in Thee
 
If you’re going through a storm, ask God to show you whether or not it’s because you refused to do the hard work OR if it’s an opportunity to be tested, strengthened or purified. If it’s the former, be willing to commit to the task. If it’s the latter, be committed to going through the fire, with your eyes on Jesus, so you can come through it refined as pure gold. Call upon Him and He will answer you. Trust His promise to never leave you or forsake you. And when you can’t see through the darkness, let your Hope always be in HIM! He NEVER has commitment issues!
 
James 1:2-8
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
 
Deut. 31:6
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
 
**If anyone wants to help me put this song to music, let me know…I could use the help! Send me a note. Thanks!
Posted in dbythesea, Faith, Jesus, Life in Christ, Poetry, Poems, Spiritual, walk on water | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

An Easter Poem

(A Repost of an Easter Poem I wrote in 2012.)

Life makes no promises, nor guarantees gain;
No glory in riches, power or fame.

No freedom from sadness, worry or fears;
pain or losses, heartaches or tears.

No gain for the righteous, nor justice for bad;
No rest for the weary or joy for the sad.

It offers no fountain to quench the soul;
Nor keep the young from growing old.

No promise of treasure, found by skill;
No trophy awarded with lasting thrill.

It plays favorites to no one, takes what it may;
Gives no lasting victory for a winning play.

No plans that promise to stay on course;
No absence of sorrow, regret or remorse.

No promise of loyal and lasting friends;
No love so perfect from beginning to end.

No great strength, money or goodwill;
That can breathe into the soul, a life fulfilled.

The only promise that life will give;
is the free choice, for whom we will live.

To live for ourselves, there is no reward;
But abundant life, who live for the Lord.

Life promises nothing of which we can cleave;
God promises life, for all who believe.

There’s only one hope, and only one friend,
There’s only one God who’ll stand in the end.

Though crucified, He conquered the grave;
Our sin forgiven, our debt has been paid.

The gift of life, fulfilled and set free,
Jesus Christ will give, to all who receive.

Ask and He will answer, seek and you will find;
Knock and the door will open; His promise to all mankind.

Happy Easter! May we remember His great love for us.

Romans 5:8 God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 15:13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

(REPOSTED FROM APRIL 2012 BLOG)

Posted in Christianity, dbythesea, Faith, Holiday, Jesus, Love, Poetry, Poems, Spiritual | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Skeletons in my Kansas City Closet

I started this blog 3 years ago, with a desire to be authentic, expose my real struggles as a Christian and share my faith in God, so that I might encourage others and bring glory to His name, as well as shatter any expectation that Christians are perfect. We are not, but by the grace of God, we are forgiven. This next story is not an easy one for me to tell, but I believe it needs to be told.

There are many stories in my past, none of which, reveal who I am, but they have all made me who I am. I feel like I played so many different characters in my life, due in part, to my own insecurities. My attempts to find my identity became a lot like shopping for clothes. I’d try them on, only to realize how grossly mis-fit they were, but not before getting stuck in them. Getting out usually involved ripping them off and unfortunately, many hearts were left in need of a great mender. Thank God, there is one.

I have not talked about this particular story much, mostly because I’ve denied it having any relevance in my life at all. For 25 years, it remained, as I saw it; a wasted fragment of my youth much too embarrassing to talk about. But God has a gentle way of revealing the significance of everything in my life to teach and draw me closer to Him. And at 45, I can now say with confidence that nothing is ever without meaning or purpose. So, here it goes…

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who began ‘shopping’ for identity, purpose and love to fill her empty closet. She was 18, raised in a Christian home and preparing for high school graduation when she met a popular college pastor at a church in San Diego. In her very young and naive eyes, he was a leader and she was drawn to him, like a groupie to a rock star. He was 10 years older and many thought she’d never gain his attention, nor should she try, due to many arguable reasons. But because she was a determined little girl, she set out to prove them all wrong. However, her passion became an obsession that she misinterpreted for love and devotion, that ultimately led to marriage at the age of 20. She thought she loved him. She also thought she loved God, but at that age, love for man or for God are not easily understood.

Before this man proposed to her, he was offered a job as Sr. Associate Pastor at a mega, inter-city church in Kansas City, MO. with one requirement; he had to have a wife. So, in the blink of an eye, she went from a Senior in high school to the Senior Associate Pastor’s wife living in Kansas City, Missouri, with a closet full of ugly church clothes! She had no idea what she was doing, nor what was about to happen. But because of her determination, she committed herself to her new role, for her new man and for her God. She sang, she spoke, she prayed, she served, she sat through 5 services a week, waited in darkened hallways while her husband counseled people. She ate alone, went to bed alone, wore her hair in ridiculous buns and dressed in her oversized, Kansas City church clothes, more suited for a woman than a young girl in her early 20’s. No more bikinis, no more giggling at boys or running through the mall with girlfriends. This was her life now and she quickly realized it was not who she was, nor what she wanted at all. She’d look at the stranger in the mirror over and over and ask, “who are you?”. She felt completely and utterly lost. After 3 years of this life, she finally broke and ran…far away.

Yes, that girl was me. I spoke in third person, because for the past 25 years, it was not my life. It was someone else’s. I refused to own it. I was too embarrassed and ashamed of how foolish and immature I was. I hated who I became and the way in which I abandoned it, blaming everyone but myself, believing I was the victim. I was not a victim. I was an immature and prideful little girl who thought I knew best, ignoring the advice of those who loved me and tried to stop me. I couldn’t admit I was wrong and the consequences where far too great, so I ran like a coward. The man I married was not a bad guy, although I believe he married me for all the wrong reasons. Even still, I’m sure I shattered his world as he hoped it would be. I spent a lot of time dealing with that truth, and admitting my responsibility in it, but not without first having to face and erase the resentments I had developed towards him, the church and God while in Kansas City.

The politics, hypocrisy and judgement are far too common in many churches. It’s unfortunate, but understandable, since nobody that ever walks into a church is considered perfect. But even more unfortunate, is when people put people on a pedestal and judge you for not living up to their expectations. They put their faith in church or leaders, rather than God. People will always fail, but God never will. Of course, none of this was learned by me back then and I was one of those I just described who had a lot of unrealistic expectations. And when everything came crashing down, I misjudged the church and everyone associated with it. I remember one morning at church, someone criticized my dress for being too short, saying, “as a pastor’s wife, your dress should be below your knees”. I was shocked at first, then hurt and then really angry. I was so consumed with what she thought of me, nothing but bitterness grew in my heart.

Over time, I sought more to please people, instead of God. I tried to be what they wanted me to be instead of who God wanted me to be. More criticism came about my clothes, my hair, my makeup, something I said or did or didn’t do right. I lived in a fish bowl, as others freely looked in to cast their stones and I was not mature enough to handle it. Don’t get me wrong, there were many genuine people who cared about me, but I simply let the bad outweigh any good. Finally, one day, after going out to my car and finding a note that said “IF you were really a christian, you wouldn’t drive 40 in a 25 mph zone.” That was it! I had enough of these critical people playing church and trying to be good enough for them. I resolved in my heart, that I was NOT the right girl for this job. Knowing I didn’t truly love my husband, combined with feeling unfit and unloved, myself, I  left everything behind, clothes and all.

The year that followed, I not only found myself running from that life, I ran from my family, from God and from any involvement in church. I hid behind my resentments, justifying every one of them. I only saw myself as a failure. I began crossing moral boundaries that I previously had set, until I found myself looking at the stranger in the mirror once again, asking the very same questions. “Who are you?” I was still very lost, but now clothed in shame and I couldn’t run from myself.

I began to see the real problem was not the church or God, but it was me. The young girl was lost because she tried filling her empty closet (her heart) with a wardrobe unfit for her (man’s approval). She desired garments of value, worth and significance, that were readily available to her for free, from a loving and gracious God, but instead bought the counterfeits, trying to uphold the law without a real relationship with Christ and it cost her a great price.

Today, I believe God, in all His sovereignty, allowed that young girl to get to such a desperate and lonely place, naked with all her insecurities, to reveal to her that He is greatest security of all and to begin to see herself through His eyes: A child of the King, fearfully and wonderfully made, with purpose, loved, bought with a price and clothed in His righteousness. She is me. I was lost, but now am found.

I don’t carry any resentments towards that church or any church, because my faith and security are in Christ alone. I hope people forgive me for the pain I’ve caused. I attend my local, humble church with gratitude, rather than judgment! I show up with a hunger and thirst for righteousness, for HIS name’s sake, not man’s. If I am judged by a brother or sister in Christ, I will not harden my heart, as I once did, but I will, instead listen for the conviction of His Holy Spirit in me. (Good-intending people are not always right, but it doesn’t mean that God can’t still use them to speak to us).

We all have skeletons in our closet that we’re afraid of facing, but from my own experience, it’s worth the effort to clean up our spiritual house before the smell of rotten bones take over. What have I learned from all of this, that I hope to share with you? Know who God made you to be and be authentic. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Don’t try to please everyone; just know that you won’t. Have confidence in Christ. Don’t follow people; follow God. Don’t blame others for your circumstances, instead take responsibility for your own actions and let God deal with the rest. (There will be times we fall victim to someone else’s bad choices, but we can still have victory in Christ Jesus our LORD. Romans 8:27 In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.) 

Don’t hold resentments. Judge not, lest you be judged. Forgive and pray for those who hurt you. Don’t blame God when bad things happen. It’s human nature to fail and make mistakes, and the consequences of those mistakes often ripple into the hearts and lives of others. It’s part of life and growing up, but KNOW that growing up and growing mature are not equal. If we are not learning from our mistakes, and making positive changes, then we are just getting good at making bad decisions, while getting old and more stupid. If you want to know what God wants from & for you, then ask HIM. Don’t believe everything people tell you. Ask HIM for discernment and know God’s written Word, so His wisdom is written in your heart. Don’t let the voice of man override the voice of God. Seek with all your heart to know HIM and HIS truth and the Truth WILL set you free.

(Disclosure and apology: I am still a student of these lessons and in my last blog, I posted a photo that was perceived, by a reader, as offensive and he felt it discredited me as a Christian. I explained that it was merely symbolic of an emotion relative to the story about my sister. I must admit, it triggered some of these old feelings, so I edited the photo, but it also gave me the courage to write this post, so for that I am thankful for his comments and concern for my walk with God. I sincerely hope I’ve not offended anyone else and pray that no one lets their disappointment in me, push them away from the only true, living and perfect God).

1 Peter 1:3-7 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Posted in Christianity, dbythesea, debi's design diary, Faith, Hypocracy, Jesus, Life in Christ, Love, Relationships, sisters, Spiritual, walk on water | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Maturation from Sisterhood Shenanigans

Not long ago, I was on a northbound train to Santa Barbara with my sister, Debi. We shared the four-hour ride together, and to my surprise, didn’t argue about a thing. I say that tongue-in-cheek, because as kids, it seemed all we did was fight. But woven into the memories of our youth, are snippets of hysterical mischief and borderline dysfunctional bonding, that has surprisingly knit our hearts together as sisters and friends. She has made me laugh, she has made me cry, and recently, she has made me proud to call her my sister. I’ve learned so much from her and she continues to inspire, encourage and challenge me to new personal heights in my life. And as a mother of two squabbling, teenage girls, this gives me much hope for them.
Debi’s knack for inspiring others developed early in life. We were about six and eight, when she wanted to do a surprise theatrical performance for our babysitter and asked me to play a major role in it. I was delighted to participate, although I’m not much of an actress. Debi sent me to the kitchen to get ketchup and a knife and without hesitation, I ran to get the requested items. She laid down in the hallway, poured the ketchup all over her neck and told me to start screaming. With her encouragement, I mustered up a winning performance, as the babysitter bought it; hook, line and sinker. We laughed so hard, we cried, but quickly realized our sitter wasn’t laughing. She was so mad, she called our parents and said she’d never babysit us again. I think we were grounded for weeks, but that didn’t stop Debi from pursuing her passions. I was daily inspired, by her brilliant ideas and creativity, to search for my own identity and passion.
One time, her expression of creativity came out in the form of acute antagonism and unfortunately for me, I was her victim. We were bored and looking for things to do, when I became an unwillingly partner in a game I didn’t want to play. I was sitting in a giant, high-back, velvet armchair that swiveled. She decided it was going to be my prison, while she played guard, refusing to let me out. Each time I tried to get up, she’d push me back down, taunting my every effort. Getting past her became my challenge and being a stubborn child, I did not want to give up. She thought it was hilarious that I was getting so angry, yet so determined.. I became a pressure cooker that exploded and then, with one single-handed push, I fell back down. She doesn’t know it, but that day taught me a lot about myself and the determination I never knew I had. Even though I didn’t succeed her strength that day, she toughened me up and taught me to use that determination to stand up for myself, a skill that I would later use to survive an abusive relationship.
As we grew older, her acting skills improved, as did my determination to stand up for myself. We were in our 20’s and had come home for the holidays. Debi went through the fridge looking for snacks while I watched her every move. She found some Harry & David cheese and began taking a bite out of each one and re-wrapping them. I was appalled by this behavior and spoke up, but she didn’t seem to care. Later, when mom saw the half-eaten cheese, naturally she wanted to know who did it. Debi immediately began her award-winning performance, “Danielle did it!” Really?!? For 20 years, I had taken blame for things I didn’t do and I wasn’t about to do it any more. So I defended myself, but to no avail. I wasn’t going give up, so my Dad stepped in and made us each take a bite from another piece of cheese to compare and find the matching teeth marks. Brilliant! Mystery solved. Thanks, Dad. Finally, I had stood up for myself and proven my innocence.
As our train neared its final destination, I realized we had just created yet another valuable memory. Sitting next to me was that same relentless sister, still endowed with the tenacity she had as a child. Except now, instead of the antagonistic pushes that held me in a chair, there was a persuasive passion that lifted me up. After all those years of shenanigans, we now share the joys of sisterhood.
Today, Debi has become an amazing actress and writer, expressing her creativity and brilliant ideas in her very own YouTube show, called www.debisdesigndiary.com; a Do-It-Yourself channel and blog that inspires, entertains, and encourages its followers. As well as equips them to find their inner artist, create beautiful things, discover and pursue their dreams with passion and determination. And yes… stand up for themselves. I am so proud of my sister.

ImageThank you, Debi for all the crazy memories filled with laughter & tears and for always being there for me…even when you were mad…
or when I was. 
I thank God for you.

(Picture: Although this isn’t us, it seems to fit).

Visit Debi’s Website today and subscribe as a follower for updates on each new videos she makes.
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Living with Boundaries

I have always wanted to live my life with a sense of vulnerability, but with healthy boundaries. I haven’t always known how to do this, though. I either get trampled on because I’m way too vulnerable, or I become so guarded, that resentment consumes me. It’s been a tight rope to balance, without falling to one side or the other and for the longest time, all I wanted was to jump off and land somewhere safe where I can walk with freedom. But over the years, I’ve been stuck on this rope, terrified of falling. knowing that’s not the way God wanted me to live, but not knowing how to find that middle ground. I’ve always been a people pleaser, trying to keep peace & afraid of conflict. I’ve tried to be kind and believe in the best of people, even when things pointed to the worst. Sometimes, that works out, but not always. As a christian, I believe I’m called to do those things, but with healthy boundaries and not a resentful heart.

Without a doubt, we’ve all befriended someone who started off friendly & respectful, only to later become harsh and unkind. We’ve given to others, only to have them take. We’ve invested in people, only to be used. We’ve been honest, only to witness their lies. We’ve trusted, only to be betrayed. We’ve listened only to be ignored. We’ve been available, only to be abandoned. We’ve loved, only to be hurt. Yes, it’s true. We have all gone through something in our lives that has given us the right to build our walls and not trust anyone. That’s just the way life is, and that’s just the way people are. But, think about it from a less-victimized angle. Have we not also, at some point in our lives, been the one who was unfriendly, harsh, or disrespectful? Have we not taken something that wasn’t ours or taken advantage of someone else’s vulnerability? Have we not also betrayed someones trust, or maybe even abandoned or hurt someone who loved us? We’d be lying if we said we haven’t. Intentionally or unintentionally, we are all imperfect. We were created with perfection by a perfect creator, but since the fall of man, we have become an imperfect people. How then do we remain vulnerable and still guard our hearts from pain?

We don’t. Life can be filled with happiness one day, then showered with pain another. People can steal our childhood innocence and leave us with wounded hearts. We can easily justify our resentments & put labels on each brick that form the walls around us, but life will always be infested with cancerous people. We are one of them. We think that the barriers we build, will keep us safe from each other, but in doing so, we become a prisoner within our own walls, drinking the poison  of resentment that will eventually destroy us. Is that how we want to live? What good can come from living with walls so thick that nothing, not even good, can penetrate them? Resentment is our enemy. Walls don’t create safety, nor does vulnerability create weakness. Forgiveness is always our friend, but forgiveness doesn’t mean you give freedom to trespassers. Forgiveness doesn’t make you weak, it makes you wise. Wisdom then teaches us about boundaries.

Boundaries are simply lines drawn to define space without blocking the views. They establish the perimeters of ownership and freedom. They will allow others to enter, but with conditions. Permission is given when one enters with respect within that space. But when negativity or abuse knocks on our doors, boundaries say, “I will not let you in.” It reserves the right to say “no”. It doesn’t change people. It does, however, give us the ability to still see the person through the windows of God’s love, but not allow their sin to stain our carpets or harden our hearts.

I’m still learning how to live with this kind of freedom. It requires discipline to daily surrender my resentments and allow God to help me forgive those who have hurt me, as well as draw boundaries for peaceful living, without the distractions of my enemies. I’m reminded daily, by my own imperfections, that I cannot change the unchangeable. We are all capable of wrong-doing and defenseless to sin, without Christ. He gives us His spirit to overcome our flesh, but we cannot be filled with joy until we surrender our rights to our resentments. Joy comes from Christ alone. The battle is HIS, not ours. God wants to tear down the walls that are impenetrable of forgiveness, so that He can use us to show His love to others and draw all men unto Him. We are to step out and love the unlovable. It is my greatest challenge to live so vulnerable, especially knowing that my boundaries, alone will not always protect me from a forcible entry or potential pain. But even so, I must be willing to get hurt, if I am to love others with the love of Christ. I’m called to love my enemies and remain confident in my God to guard my life and fill my heart with joy.

Matt 5:43-47 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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My Cinderella Story

As a little girl, I was told many Bible stories, like Adam and Eve, Jonah and the Whale and Noah’s Ark, right along-side with the classic, Disney’s Cinderella and Snow White.  I was fortunate enough to have loving Christian parents who taught me about God and the Bible and even though the stories of the Bible resembled fairy tales, they weren’t. They really happened. They were God’s miracles. On the other hand, Disney stories were fairy tales. Somehow, I knew the difference. I knew Jesus was real and Santa Claus wasn’t. (Sorry, for those of you who believe in the jolly idea of a fat-bellied, old man flying around on a sleigh). Even if there were such a character, not a single one of us would get a gift, based on Santa’s criteria…we’re all naughty.

I was relieved to learn that Snow White didn’t exist, primarily because I couldn’t believe her step-Mother could be so evil to send orders to cut her heart out and put it in a box. (Really?! Why is this a children’s story?!?) Cinderella, however, a story every little girl loves about a princess being rescued by a prince, was not as easy for me to accept as just fantasy. I wanted to believe in a prince charming on a white horse, that would whisk me away, have babies and live happily ever-after in a castle on a hill. That’s all I ever wanted. Well, for those who know my story… I went through a couple of frogs before finding my Prince. (And for those who don’t know my story, you’ll just have to keep reading my blog. I’ve made a lot of immature choices, as well as some down-right bad choices in my life. Someday, I’ll put it in an autobiography. In all of it, God is using it for His glory.) Anyway, back to my story…just when I thought my prince didn’t exist and I stopped looking for him, he found me, 4 years ago today on May 6, 2009 . He was charming, handsome & funny.  It was difficult, at first, to recognize him as a prince, seeing he had no horse and no castle (haha), but God has a sense of humor and wanted me to walk in faith as he slowly unveiled my prince before my eyes.  And that He did. As for my castle.. well, looks like that will just have to wait till I get to Heaven.

The Bible reveals a lot about Heaven and I’ve always wanted to know as much as possible about God and all those crazy Bible stories. I did a lot of reading and learned quite a bit as I grew older, but it wasn’t really until these last 10 years of my life, that knowing about Him, was not nearly as good as knowing Him. I’d go to church & try to be a good person, only to fall flat on my face in a puddle of muddy failures, wondering how I got there. The clock would strike midnight and I’d find myself in rags, surrounded by broken pumpkins and shattered dreams, just like Cinderella. But instead of crying out to some false fairy god mother, I learned to call out to God, the Father. And He showed up, every single time; and He still does. Though, I don’t always recognize that He is there, I can be assured by His Word that He is. He reaches down, pulls me out of the mud, cleanses me with His love, wraps me in grace, feeds me the truth, quenches my thirst and restores my soul. I was an undeserving pauper, covered in filthy rags, yet there He was, the Prince of Peace, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, embracing me as His spotless bride and the things of this earth grew strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

Today, I look back and see how I went from knowing about God to KNOWING God. A relationship; the most important relationship of my life.  He chose me. He is my God, my Savior, my Lord, my Abba Daddy and the lover of my soul. No pumpkins, no mice, no magic wands. He, alone is my heart’s desire and when that final hour strikes, I shall dwell in the House of the Lord…Happily ever after.

“And as the deer pants for the water, Lord, so my soul longs for you.  You alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship Thee. You alone are my strength, my shield. To you alone, may my spirit yield. You alone are my hearts’ desire and I long to worship you.”

As the Deer is a well-known praise and worship song by Martin J. Nystrom, a native of SeattleWashington. Written in 1981, this song is based on Psalm 42:1.



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Life Promises Nothing…God Promises LIFE!

AN EASTER POEM I WROTE LAST YEAR.

Life makes no promises, nor guarantees gain;
No glory in riches, power or fame.

No freedom from sadness, worry or fears;
pain or losses, heartaches or tears.

No gain for the righteous, nor justice for bad;
No rest for the weary or joy for the sad.

It offers no fountain to quench the soul;
Nor keep the young from growing old.

No promise of treasure, found by skill;
No trophy awarded with lasting thrill.

It plays favorites to no one, takes what it may;
Gives no lasting victory for a winning play.

No plans that promise to stay on course;
No absence of sorrow, regret or remorse.

No promise of loyal and lasting friends;
No love so perfect from beginning to end.

No great strength, money or goodwill;
That can breathe into the soul, a life fulfilled.

The only promise that life will give;
is the free choice, for whom we will live.

To live for ourselves, there is no reward;
But abundant life, who live for the Lord.

Life promises nothing of which we can cleave;
God promises life, for all who believe.

There’s only one hope, and only one friend,
There’s only one God who’ll stand in the end.

Though crucified, He conquered the grave;
Our sin forgiven, our debt has been paid.

The gift of life, fulfilled and set free,
Jesus Christ will give, to all who receive.

Ask and He will answer, seek and you will find;
Knock and the door will open; His promise to all mankind.

Happy Easter! May we remember His great love for us.

Romans 5:8 God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 15:13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

(REPOSTED FROM APRIL 2012 BLOG)

Posted in Christianity, Holiday, Life in Christ, Poetry, Poems, Spiritual | Tagged , | 5 Comments

LOVE: Noun or Verb?


February is the month for Love. Valentines Day can either be a day filled with romance or great disappointment. I guess it depends on the circumstances. Maybe you don’t care much about Valentines Day, but I think it’s safe to say we all care about being loved. It’s a God-given need in all of us. But when we say those precious 3 words, “I love you”, do we really mean it? Recognizing the counterfeit, requires an acute awareness of what real love is. Do you know?

We’ve all loved, been loved, felt unloved or hurt by love. Regardless, we seem to spend our whole lives looking for it; hoping we find it. For who? For ourselves? Why? Ask yourself, “why do I want to be loved?” or better yet, “why do I love?”. Is it because of how it makes me feel? What if it no longer makes me feel good? Just like the wind, feelings come and go, so how can I rely on them to define love? So, then; what is real Love?

I often turn to God’s word for answers like these. 1st Corinthians 13:4-8 gives the Biblical definition of love: 

“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 

In our generation, we talk about love as if it were a noun; a feeling. The dictionary defines it as a deep feeling or intense affection for someone. Is that what we believe? Is it some thing we feel? According to the Bible it sounds more like a verb; something it does or does not do. An action that often requires self-sacrifice; to give, rather than receive. It’s easy to give to those who are lovable, but the sacrifice comes when they are not-so lovable. What then? Oh how difficult it is, to know the answer without being deeply humbled by it. I know for myself, because it reveals a selfishness in me. I admit, I’ve spent a good part of my life looking for true love and the many times I thought I’d found it, it usually didn’t feel very good at all. It was a counterfeit love and I didn’t recognize it. Although today, I must say that I’m happily married to a wonderful man and we both feel love for each other, but I still must continually ask myself, “is it a ‘noun-love’ or a ‘verb-love’?”. (Am I feeling or doing?) 

If God defines love as a verb, how are we, an imperfect & selfish generation, to do it right? How do we love so unselfishly? And are we to tolerate those who hurt us? Let me insert a word of caution here; I believe love does NOT require tolerance or attachment, especially to those who hurt us. However, Love DOES require forgiveness; letting go of resentment and letting them see Jesus in me. The absence of resentment is the evidence of forgiveness; a byproduct of love. We are a unlovable and undeserving world, yet God still loves us.

At a young age, I read 1st Corinthians 13, and asked my Mom, “how is this possible? Nobody can do this!” Her reply became etched in my heart forever. She said, “it is NOT possible. Only God can.” I wondered then, “why does He tell us to love this way, if He knows we can’t?”. I now believe He holds us to this standard, so that we might see our need for Him. Without God, my love will only prove to be counterfeit in the end. But with God, His love is made perfect in me. God also created us with a deep need to BE loved, knowing that no one could ever satisfy that need, except for God, Himself. He shows us the true meaning of love, so that when we earnestly seek it, we find Him and are fully satisfied.

So, then, what is true love? Well, really…I’d say it’s a PRONOUN. God IS love. So, how does this change the way I view love and how I am to love others? Certainly not by my own efforts. But instead, by letting God into my heart; filling me with HIS love; yielding my own selfish heart and becoming an empty vessel, in which His perfect love can flow through. And when His love is revealed, I no longer need anything else. He is enough and there is plenty to go around. 

I wrote this poem after my conversation with my Mom and the lesson on love I learned that day…. 

If Love is…
If love is patient, why won’t he wait?
If love is kind, why does she hate?
If love is not jealous, why envy and want? 
If love is not proud, why fight & flaunt?
If love is not selfish, why won’t they share?
If love is not rude, why don’t they care?
If love is not demanding, why does he shout?
If love is not touchy, why does she pout?
If love holds no grudges, when others do wrong?
Why do they harbor resentment so long?
If love is eager, to believe in the best,
Why are they anxious, to accuse and to test?
And why do they quit, if love never fails?
and hearts are breaking, in their ‘fairy-tale’. 
I wonder these things and the answer comes clear
no man or woman can love so sincere.
For God is love, so perfect and real,
through the death of His son, His love is revealed.
He said to let go and leave it to HIM,
“Lord, help me to love, please fill me within.
“Use me, Lord, let your love flow through.”
as I yield my heart and surrender to you”.
 
 

“And so we know and rest on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in them. This is how love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:17)

He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:8)

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friend. (John 15:13)

Posted in Christianity, Faith, Jesus, Life in Christ, Love, Spiritual | Tagged , | 3 Comments

SILENCE

It’s a new year and I haven’t written in my blog for 3 months. Usually, God will put something on my heart to share, but lately, things have been pretty quiet…internally, that is. I’ve been struggling with this silence and have wondered.. has God been absent? Or have I?

Silence…I’ve always hated it. It has been the trigger to so many negative emotions in my lifetime: fear, rejection, helplessness, loneliness and abandonment. Anything from being alone in a quiet house to the silence of unresolved conflict with someone I love. It all started when I was a kid.  I remember the bitter silence of cold wars, fought between my Parents. When they fought, they’d go days without talking to each other and there was nothing I could do but wait. Feelings of brokenness and instability surrounded me until they would talk again.

Another memory was in my 5th grade year. My family moved from California to Washington State. I had this little crush on a boy for 4 years and even though it was puppy love, it was devastating to leave him behind. We wrote each other letters almost weekly and after 9 months of being away, my family came home for the holidays. We spoke over the phone and planned a visit. His Mom agreed to bring him over to our house for dinner and on the day he was to come, I woke up with anticipation and excitement. I couldn’t wait to see him and as the time grew closer, I sat and waited by the window for him to show up. But as it turned out, I waited all night. He never came or called and despite many attempts to contact him, I never heard from him again. I can’t even begin to describe the emotions I remember feeling for years from that single night; rejection, disappointment, abandonment, anger, confusion. I wanted to know why; I needed an answer and I never got one.

Then, as I entered my early twenties, I began battling a whole new kind of silence. Cochlear Otosclerosis, aka, Deafness. It was a major struggle that caused me great fear and insecurity. Although modern technology has helped with this, I still find myself wrestling with those emotions in certain situations. As I grew even older, silence became my worst enemy while dealing with infertility for over 3 years. Many times, I felt abandoned by God and I hated the quietness of my childless home. Although, looking back, my faith increased and I realized God had never left me at all. He eventually blessed me with beautiful children, but those three years of waiting were agonizing, to say the least.

There were many more small, but painful, moments of unwanted silence and waiting. With each one came the need to endure, get through it and wait for it to pass. However, I’ve always believed there’s a lesson God wants to teach me through each difficulty and He continues to show me some great things about faith, trust, patience and hope. But I never considered the ‘silence’ to be the lesson. Being alone, cold wars, deafness, infertility…I saw those as my problems and silence was just the gap of time to ‘get through’ it. A time to wait, like some sort of time out, until the lesson was learned or until God was ready to answer. So, I’d dredge through each muddy path of silence, seeking perseverance, long-suffering and hope, trying to remain confident that God would work out all things for HIS good. I thought all I had to do was wait for Him to show up, like the little girl in the window.

Now as an adult, I find myself still having childlike emotions when it comes to dealing with unwanted silence. “Why, after all these years, can’t I deal with it?” This has been my big question for the last 3 three months, and as I sought God for answers, daily, it became more and more clear. He began to show me that my need for answers was greater than my need for Him. While I thought I was increasing in faith, I was actually increasing in resentment. I thought I was building my character, but I was not learning God’s character. And while I believed I was waiting for Him to show up, He was actually waiting for ME to show up.

I’ve since begun to see that silence is often a divine appointment; an opportunity to spend time with the God I put my faith in. To seek Him ‘IN it’, instead of ‘getting THROUGH it’. He isn’t ignoring me or making ME wait, HE is waiting. He’s been there all along, giving me those precious moments of silence to sit in His presence, so He can reveal to me, WHO He is, not just what He can do. Oswald Chambers puts it best, “God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you WHO HE IS”.  Silence is a gift; a date with the Heavenly Father. How can I not accept this invitation? If I show up, He will be there. He knows what I need before I even ask. (Matt. 6:8) How He answers me is much less important than having a close relationship with Him. This is the lesson and as this new year begins, so does my desire to welcome the silence that God gives me; to be willing to change the agonizing, silent waiting periods, into beautiful growing periods;

‘GROWING by KNOWING’…HIM.

John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

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